Optimizing acid-base bifunctional mesoporous catalysts for the henry reaction: Effects of the surface density and site isolation of functional groups

Krishna K. Sharma, Robert P. Buckley, Tewodros Asefa

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73 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the effects of the surface density and the spacing between grafted organoamines (and residual ungrafted silanols) of amine-functionalized mesoporous materials on their (cooperative) catalytic activity in the Henry reaction. The spacing between the bifunctional groups (amines and silanols), their site isolation, and their surface density were controlled by one-step or two-step grafting of a series of organosilanes containing linear alkylamine, alkyldiamine, alkyltriamine, and meta- and para-substituted aromatic amines onto mesoporous silica in ethanol and/or toluene. The grafting in ethanol produced site-isolated, flexible alkylamines, alkyldiamines, and alkyltriamines of different tether lengths and rigid meta- and para-substituted aromatic amines and high surface area materials, whereas the grafting in toluene resulted in closely spaced organoamines and materials with lower surface areas. The spacing between the organoamine groups was probed by complexing cupric ions with the amines and by measuring the electronic spectra of the complexes. The materials' catalytic activities were dependent not only on the degree of site isolation of the amine groups and the surface areas of the materials, but also on the relative spacing between the functional groups and their surface density. Samples grafted with monoamine groups in ethanol and samples grafted with diamine or triamine groups in toluene for 5 h gave ∼100% conversion in 16 min of the Henry reaction between p-hydroxybenzaldehyde and nitromethane. However, the corresponding monoamine-grafted sample in toluene and diamine- and triamine-grafted samples in ethanol gave ∼100% conversion after 1 h. On the basis of turnover number (TON) and TON per surface area, the samples containing optimum concentrations of ∼0.8-1.5 mmol of grafted organoamines/g, which we dubbed as the critical density of organic grafted groups, gave the highest catalytic efficiencies. These samples have the most favorable amine-silanol cooperative catalytic activity. Furthermore, samples functionalized with rigid meta-substituted aminophenyl groups in ethanol showed higher catalytic efficiency than the corresponding sample containing the amine groups at the para-position, possibly due to the close proximity of the bifunctional groups in the former. The capping of ungrafted silanols with noncatalytic organosilanes in toluene resulted in reduction of catalytic activities, confirming the involvement of silanols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14306-14320
Number of pages15
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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